What is the difference between “two” and “both”?

Is it “you two,” or is it “you both”? Don’t they mean the same thing? Well, we understand when you see the words two and both, you will feel the need to put on your thinking caps and try not to use them interchangeably, but many writers mix these words and do not even realize it!

We will decode the difference between two and both and hope you master using them by the time you finish reading this blog.

Two is used when you call out or indicate two people or things out of a whole lot. It has a general sense. For instance,

The teacher picked two students from a class of 30. She said, “I have chosen you two to participate in the essay writing competition.”

Both is  used when you refer to two people or things that are already chosen from a lot. It has a specific sense. Let us consider the example given above.

The teacher chose two students and said to them: “I hope you both win the competition.”

Let us now consider an example of using two and both in scholarly writing.

  • Out of all the reactive elements, we experimented with two ─ copper and iron. 
  • We tested two drugs, and both caused an allergic reaction to the subject.

So, if you think you have understood the difference between two and both, you may want to test yourself by filling in the blanks in the sentences given below.

  1. The professor said, “You ____ are the brightest students in the whole class.”
  2. Sam and I said, “We ___ will come to the practice today.”
  3. I saw an array of fruits and picked up the only ___ of my favorites.
  4. They had only two bags left, so I brought them ___.

Stay tuned as we clear the difference between more of such commonly confused word pairs in our next blog!

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